Many Christians believe that Lucifer became a serpent and tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They believe he did so out of spite and jealousy of no longer being the favored creation of God. In his jealousy, he rebelled against God and the angels enacting a civil war in heaven. A third of angels that sided with him fell from heaven and became demons that would tempt humanity and inflict them with disease. With the exception of minor allusion, none of this is biblical. Most Christians continually believe this narrative because John Milton wrote it. Although these ideas were already popular in Christianity before the 1600s, Milton codified and canonized these ideas with his work. Milton was an interesting figure. He was an advisor and translator to the Cromwell government that was in place after the English Civil War, even writing a tract on freedom of speech. He was well traveled and was inspired by many Christian theologies and traditions, even though he primarily held Puritan sensibilities. And yet, Paradise Lost contains heterodox ideas such as Arianism, the belief that the Son was separate and subordinate to the Father. The text itself, regardless of theological contributions, is considered remarkable. As a result, Milton’s Paradise Lost is arguably the singular most important piece of English literature. More than Pilgrim’s Progress or the works of Shakespeare. To honor Dr. John Forbes, a previous curator of the Quayle Bible Collection, we acquired this significant piece of literature to fill in a much-needed gap to our collection. The 2021-2022 exhibit is in meant to honor Dr. Forbes and this piece of literature that changed Western Christianity.
In addition to the overview provided in each box below, you can use the arrow buttons to view collection items that were part of the exhibit. If you click on the image or caption title, the image will be enlarged in a new tab with the option to zoom in further.
Special thanks to those who contributed to the production of this exhibit including:
Jamie Pellikaan, Baker Alum ‘21
Dr. Lucy Price, Baker Emeritus Faculty
Dr. Lori Anne Ferrell, Claremont Graduate University